Want to get into Harvard?
This year 27,000 high schoolers did. Fewer than 8% got in. And those numbers are not going to get better for the next wave of applicants. “You’re going to have the most high school graduates in 2009,” says Dr. Katherine Cohen, perhaps America’s highest priced college admissions coach. “But you also have this downturn in the economy – two big things going against kids. Where are they going to get that help?”
Parents who can afford it often turn to coaches such as Cohen, sometimes paying as much as $47,000 over the course of their teenagers’ junior and senior years. Sound beyond your budget? There's good news. In the face of one of the most competitive college application years ever, Cohen, and her New York-based company, Ivywise, are making her services more available, and more affordable.
They recently rolled out Applywise, a virtual version of Cohen's one-on-one sessions, for the relatively reasonable price of $169 for six sessions, or $299 for a dozen sessions. The software includes interactive exercises and tips on subjects such as crafting a killer personal essay, formatting your brag sheet, and winnowing your college list to realistic choices. (Cohen is the first to admit she can’t turn a “B” student into a prime candidate for Princeton, unless he or she also happens to be a legacy or a nationally ranked tennis player.)
Where Cohen has proven her talent is staying on clients' cases to make sure they don’t defeat themselves by doing dumb things like missing application deadlines. Applywise.com is virtual “Kat” as her students come to know Cohen – a sort of video game complete with Podcasts on subjects such as time management tips and a futuristic “dashboard” that helps you keep track of the college application process.